Pitching Velocity Conversation with Angels Scout

Chapman Throwing 105 mph but…
September 9, 2010
Do You Have the Complete Package?
September 14, 2010

Yesterday’s blog on not having to throw the Chapman-like 100+ mph fastball to have success generated some good responses.  Let me share one with you.

“I love to get your emails and have never responded but feel compelled to after reading this latest one regarding pitching velocity. Having a son who is just entering as a freshman in college and after going through the recruiting process with him if there is one thing that stands out in my mind is that most college coaches are obsessed with velocity (do you actually know of any college freshman pitchers who had low 80’s fastballs that were highly recruited by DI schools?). Greg Maddux seems to be the pitcher everyone uses as a role model to give boys who throw below average fastballs some encouragement but what always seems to get over looked was that Greg Maddux threw in the 90’s when he was in High School. I can venture to guess that if he was only throwing mid 80’s in High School he would never have been looked at by the Majors. Your point is very well taken that location is very important but if you are going to move on beyond High School it is velocity  that seems to perk up the recruiters. What are your thoughts on this?”

Let me explain to you what my friend (high level Angels scout) says about velocity and getting scouted.  I gave Casey a ring tonight at my son’s soccer practice and talked for a half hour about what he’s seeing at different levels of baseball on the mound.  You know questions like, who’s getting signed with what kind of stuff, and who isn’t?  And how hard do you need to be throwing to have a chance a throw in college or beyond.

He said RHP’s with below average fastballs (90mph and below) will not get many looks at the professional level UNLESS there is some domination with pitch location and movement with three different pitches.  But, proving they can dominate will need to be demonstrated in a good collegiate program.

Righties who are mid 80’s on their fastball aren’t getting much play in a D1 college program today.  Those types of pitchers will fit best in a D2 or D3 program.

When asked about LHP’s he said they can get away with less MPH on their fastballs.  Not too long ago he signed a lefty hurler out of Washington State University who was between 81-85 mph on his fastball.  BUT, everything he threw moved all over the place.  This kid made it to AA pro ball and was released.

In general, lefties who are mid 80’s and up can throw in a D1 program and do fine with the right movement on their fastball and some good off speed junk.

So how does this fit in answering the question in the email we received about recruiters focusing on velocity?  The scout verified my commentary on movement and location being and absolute necessity in order to pitch professionally.  Velocity is important, and scouts or college coaches are looking for guys with live arms.  But, without a serious kick butt work habit and a desire to develop more pitches with some movement, those guys won’t pan out at any level.

You can’t control your genetics, but you can control how hard you work.  Best to learn the pitches and develop the movement and see if your ma and pa’s genes are good enough to get you that 90+ mph heater.

Are there guys overlooked every year with below average fastballs who could pitch professionally?  Sure there are.  But it’s a supply and demand issue.  The more global baseball gets, the more selective high level programs can get because of the sheer number of pitchers out there.

I also talked Casey into doing a recorded call on this subject.  Once we do it in the near future, we’ll pass it on to you for sure.  Meanwhile, don’t bet Santa is bringing you new genes this Christmas, best work on your pitching mechanics and grips and see where that takes you.  We can teach that to you but you’ll have to put in the time.

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